What Am I Selling?

Every now and then, someone on social media gets annoyed with me because they think I am selling Lean tools or Lean transformation consulting services. Or, when I provide a link to one of my books, someone gets annoyed (a few get really annoyed!) that I am trying to sell them a book.

Tools and Thinking

I don’t sell Lean tools or Lean consulting services, and my books are not the “product” that they seem to be. Absent any understanding of my intent or the context of my work, as a teacher, whether I held the position of manager or professor, my books can easily look like any other product that someone is trying to sell.

Plus, people generally expect someone to be selling them something, so my efforts get lumped into that expectation. But there is nuance that can be difficult to discern (and nuance usually is often toxic to selling). Namely, what I am “selling” — arguing for, really — is to re-engage people’s ability to think, which “the system” has likely drained out of them long ago, and to inspire different ways of thinking.

My books are also calls to think bigger — bigger than the usual way of thinking and doing things, which as the great Henry Gantt said, “is always wrong.” If we want to think bigger, we have to acknowledge that our usual way of thinking does not produce the desired result. In my view, the desired result is better social and economic outcomes.

Of course, this is a tough “sell” because most people think they are quite good at thinking. And they likely see little need to think differently or think bigger, in part because there are seemingly insurmountable barriers for doing so — and perhaps penalties for trying.

As Chihiro Nakao says,

Kaizen eyes see 1000 things needing improvement. Accepting eyes see things as they are and just accept it.

Toyota-style kaizen proves that the existence of many constraints is not a barrier for creatively solving complex problems. Rather, they are enablers for generating alternate paths to business and professional success. Kaizen forever turns “accepting eyes” into “rejecting eyes” — eyes that reject both the status quo and thinking small.

If you have been following me, you have likely noticed that my approach to “selling” is rather unsophisticated, in large part because I am trying to teach, not sell. So please don’t get too upset with me when I suggest a book I wrote that I think might be helpful to you. I’m just a teacher trying to help people learn and improve.

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